Turkish Style Belly Dance

What is Turkish Style Belly Dance?

There are two main types of Turkish dance-Turkish “Oryantal” belly dance and the folkloric Turkish Romany “gypsy” dance. Modern Turkish Oryantal dance as it is currently performed today has been heavily influenced by Egyptian classical style belly dance, so it’s hard to define a “purely” Turkish style, but Turkish style of belly dance definitely has its own unique style and “flavor”.

Generally, Turkish style has a more bouncy and energetic feeling which is influenced by the music which is of a 9/8 time musical signature. This “uneven” rhythm gives the dancing a more upbeat feeling with the movements performed more on the soles of the feet with a higher center of gravity. Turkish belly dance has a more unbridled energy to it-joyous, spontaneous, fiery and assertive.

There can also be sharp and aggressive hip movements, strong arms with a straighter line and powerful pelvic lifts. Turkish belly dance is also known for its “floor work” which is belly dance movements performed on the floor. This is very characteristic of Turkish style and is one of the things that it is known for.

Another thing that Turkish dance is known for is a move called the “Turkish drop” where a dancer very quickly and dramatically drops to the ground by bending at the knees causing the thighs and back to lay flat on the ground. After the drop, the dancer will transition into doing floorwork using slow and sensual movements like undulations, figure-8’s, shimmies and backbends.

Turkish belly dance can be very athletic and incorporates a lot of movements that require incredible flexibility like backbends. It is also common to see skillful and frequent use of finger cymbals (“zagat”) in this style of dance.

The other popular style of Turkish dance that you are likely to see is called Turkish Romani style and it is a unique style of folkloric dance. It is also called “gypsy” style and very few people teach and perform this authentic style, either inside or outside of Turkey. The dance is very different than Turkish Oryantal style, emphasizing a lot of strong pelvic movements and has a very earthy and grounded feeling.

You will see a lot of hand movements such as fists hitting different parts of the body like the shoulders and hips and gestures illustrating different aspects of everyday life like doing the laundry or playing an instrument. Turkish Roman style is always danced to the 9/8 rhythm and it gives a very earthy and folkloric feeling to the dance. If you get an opportunity to learn this style, definitely do it as it is a very fun and unique!

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